Director: Adam McKay | Runtime: 2h 12mins | Biography, Comedy, Drama
The story of Dick Cheney (Christian Bale), who worked as both a government official and insider. His eventual run as Vice President, under George W. Bush (Sam Rockwell), changed the course of American history as we know it today.
Adam McKay’s style as director drastically changed when he took the helm of the acclaimed The Big Short (2015), and continues his style with his next feature Vice. Although the style has changed since the days of his early collaborations with Will Ferrell, it seems Adam McKay never quite lost the comedic charm, even in the tougher stories he has ran with in the past couple of years, his playfulness with the way he presents information (or lack there of) is the exact reason he is perfect to direct these types of films. Vice is no different, using jokes and outside-the-box techniques to tell us just what is going on.
The biggest difference between his last two films is that The Big Short has a range of characters telling a bigger story, but Vice, at it’s core, is singular in it’s focus and is anchored solely by the main character, Dick Cheney. This film absolutely nails the hunger for power, and really brings to light just how lethal it can be. This is because of a combination of Adam McKay’s unique direction and writing, and of course, Christian Bale’s performance. While the rest of the cast is great (Amy Adams once again deserves so much praise), Bale’s performance may just be the highlight of his fantastic career, capturing the real essence of Cheney’s power and, in a nutshell, his cold heartedness.
However, it’s the comparison between The Big Short and Vice that hinders the films true potential. Where The Big Short is a fluid and energetic film, Vice can struggle to reach that same potential. The film’s transition from standard biopic to where it really wants to be, the Vice Presidency, can feel jolting, which leaves some parts to slow down the pace, and make it drag. It’s not necessarily McKay’s fault though, the energy in the camerawork and script just don’t quite match the particular scenes it’s trying to accompany.
Other than the occasional joltiness, Vice can rejoice in it’s ability to tell a story that many may know nothing about, but need to hear. It’s a huge win for Bale as a performer, and also for McKay, who’s new found style makes any future project all the more exciting.